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Title: Final Technical Report -- Bridging the PSI Knowledge Gap: A Multiscale Approach

The Plasma Surface Interactions (PSI) Science Center formed by the grant undertook a multidisciplinary set of studies on the complex interface between the plasma and solid states of matter. The strategy of the center was to combine and integrate the experimental, diagnostic and modeling toolkits from multiple institutions towards specific PSI problems. In this way the Center could tackle integrated science issues which were not addressable by single institutions, as well as evolve the underlying science of the PSI in a more general way than just for fusion applications. The overall strategy proved very successful. The research result and highlights of the MIT portion of the Center are primarily described. A particular highlight is the study of tungsten nano-tendril growth in the presence of helium plasmas. The Center research provided valuable new insights to the mechanisms controlling the nano-tendrils by developing coupled modeling and in situ diagnostic methods which could be directly compared. For example, the role of helium accumulation in tungsten distortion in the surface was followed with unique in situ helium concentration diagnostics developed. These depth-profiled, time-resolved helium concentration measurements continue to challenge the numerical models of nano-tendrils. The Center team also combined its expertise on tungsten nano-tendrilsmore » to demonstrate for the first time the growth of the tendrils in a fusion environment on the Alcator C-Mod fusion experiment, thus having significant impact on the broader fusion research effort. A new form of isolated nano-tendril “columns” were identified which are now being used to understand the underlying mechanisms controlling the tendril growth. The Center also advanced PSI science on a broader front with a particular emphasis on developing a wide range of in situ PSI diagnostic tools at the DIONISOS facility at MIT. For example the strong suppression of sputtering by the certain combination of light-species plasmas and metals was experimentally studied with independent measurement methods across the Center. This surprising result challenges the universal use of the binary-collision approximation in sputtering predictions and continues to be the subject of study. In order to address this issue MIT developed a new in situ erosion measurement technique based on ion beam analysis which can be used at elevated material temperatures. This exciting new technique is now being used to study material erosion in high performance plasma thrusters for space exploration and is being adopted to fusion experimental devices. This is an indicator of the positive synergies that arise from such a Center, with the research having impact beyond the initial area of study. The Center also served successfully as an organizing force for communication to the science community. The MIT members of the Center provided many high-profile overview presentations at prestigious international conferences and national workshops. The research resulted in three student theses and 24 peer-reviewed publications. PSI research continues to be identified as a critical area for fusion energy.« less
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY plasmas; materials; fusion energy; thrusters; tungsten; ion beam analysis